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Survival Equipment

Check out these do-it-yourself preparedness gifts kids can make

The best gifts come from the heart.
Check out these do-it-yourself preparedness gifts kids can make

As far as I’m concerned, a home-made Christmas gift with some thought behind it trumps the most expensive thing you can buy. And, this is guaranteed:  If  a child makes a preparedness gift for a loved one, that item will be cherished, included in a survival kit and used.

by Leon Pantenburg

When my daughter, Mary was 12, she decided to make all her Christmas presents. Starting in October, she painted pictures, ceramic plates and coffee cups, decorated photo frames and made jewelry for loved ones. All the recipients cherish those gifts, and I wouldn’t trade my handpainted coffee cup for the most expensive item from the Cabala’s catalog!

Here is a list of do-it-yourself survival gear that kids can make. The materials are free or don’t cost much, but they can really provide some quality items. Have the youngster hand-write or draw simple directions along with the SurvivalCommonSense.com links on how to use them. Then, put these under the tree, or use them as stocking stuffers.

What gift is more thoughtful than one that might save your life?
A 55-gallon trash bag can make a quick, effective emergency shelter.

A 55-gallon trash bag can make a quick, effective emergency shelter.

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55 gallon plastic trash bag: This plastic bag can provide a quick shelter for getting out of the weather, and be used for many other purposes. A hole can be cut in the bottom, and the bag can be worn for emergency rain gear.  It can be split along the seam  to make a sheet of plastic for catching rainwater, or as a shelter from the sun. Strips can be cut off it and braided into a rope or cord.

Plastic Bread Sacks: Yeah, those sturdy, clear plastic bags that come as bread wrappings should be included in a survival kit. Fold two of them, and place in a plastic sandwich bag. The bags can be used to make transpiration bags for gathering water, as vessels to transport water, or as foot coverings.

In a pinch, take off your boots, put your stockinged foot in the bread sack, and put the shoe back on. Secure the top with duct tape or cord, and you have a reasonably effective method of keeping you feet dry.

The bags can also be used for a variety of  survival techniques: Put your dry tinder in a bread sack as you gather it in the rain. On damp ground, use a bag as a sit-upon.

cotton ball and petroleum jelly firestarter containers

These free containers work well for storing firestarter.

100 count bag of cotton balls and 12 oz of petroleum jelly: This is the raw material for one of the most effective firestarters available. Just gob the cotton balls with the jelly, fluff as much as possible and ignite with a magnesium stick, lighter or match. The system works great, and is virtually foolproof.

Free Containers for Infused Cotton Balls: Put the infused cotton balls in a free container, such as a 35mm film canister/ diabetic test strips container or Red Bull energy shot container, and you have an effective and reliable firestarter system for pennies. And talk about a great stocking stuffer for that hunter, hiker or outdoors-type who is hard to buy for!

Waxed firestarter: Melt  old candles and dip worn-out 100 percent cotton Teri-cloth in the wax to make a very serviceable, waterproof firestarter.  Tear off small strips and pack them in your survival kit.

It took some duct tape and paracord to make these quart Gatorade containers into serviceable canteens.

Quart Gator Aid container: These rugged plastic water containers are free with the purchase of a quart of GatorAide and they can be reused for a long time. The containers are a great backup for other water storage systems, and can easily be replaced. Affix a loop of paracord with duct tape, and you can carry the water bottle on a belt or affixed to a caribinner.

Insulite Sit-Upon: This is an old Girl Scout  tip: Take that old insulite sleeping pad in the garage nobody will ever use again and cut it into squares about 14 inches  by 14 inches. Take it along with your survival gear. If you’re hunting, the pad will allow you to sit  on a cold, wet log without soaking the seat of your pants. Use the sit-upon in combination with your trash bag survival shelter to get through a cold, wet night.

The insulite is easily written upon with a permanent marker. It’s a great place to put holiday greetings!

Hardtack: The original survival ration, hardtack is a hard cracker that works very well as an addition to

Mark's hardtack recipe is tasty and nutritious!

Mark’s hardtack recipe is tasty and nutritious!

the survival kit. The recipe is simple and if the kids like to bake Christmas cookies, they’ll probably enjoy making hardtack.http://astore.amazon.com/greatsurvivalcommonsenseproducts-20

Notebook and pencil: I learned how to make pocket notebooks several years ago, when my daughter’s elementary school project was to find a way to recycle commonly-used stuff. Since I use a lot of notebooks,  Mary and I figured out a way to make note pad fillers out of  standard writing paper. All you do is fold and cut the used paper three times, then staple the pieces to a piece of  cardboard. It make a great pocket-sized notebook that will fit in a pocket or survival kit. A notebook is a necessity for leaving notes, recording compass bearings, GPS locations and taking map notes.

School or Family Photo with Message on Back: This is probably the best gift. Have the youngster write something on back, such as “Be Safe,”  and make sure that picture gets stored in the survival kit. Then, if that loved one gets in a tight spot, he or she can look at the photo and recall why it’s important to never give up!

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Survival Equipment

Leon Pantenburg is a wilderness enthusiast, and doesn't claim to be a survival expert or expertise as a survivalist. As a newspaperman and journalist for three decades, covering search and rescue, sheriff's departments, floods, forest fires and other natural disasters and outdoor emergencies, Leon learned many people died unnecessarily or escaped miraculously from outdoor emergency situations when simple, common sense might have changed the outcome. Leon now teaches common sense techniques to the average person in order to avert potential disasters. His emphasis is on tried and tested, simple techniques of wilderness survival. Every technique, piece of equipment or skill recommended on this website has been thoroughly tested and researched. After graduating from Iowa State University, Leon completed a six-month, 2,552-mile solo Mississippi River canoe trip from the headwaters at Lake Itasca, Minn., to the Gulf of Mexico. His wilderness backpacking experience includes extended solos through Yellowstone’s backcountry; hiking the John Muir Trail in California, and numerous shorter trips along the Pacific Crest Trail. Other mountain backpacking trips include hikes through the Uintas in Utah; the Beartooths in Montana; the Sawtooths in Idaho; the Pryors, the Wind River Range, Tetons and Bighorns in Wyoming; Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, the Catskills in New York and Death Valley National Monument in southern California. Some of Leon's canoe trips include sojourns through the Okefenokee Swamp and National Wildlife Refuge in Georgia, the Big Black River swamp in Mississippi and the Boundary Waters canoe area in northern Minnesota and numerous small river trips in the Midwest and Pacific Northwest. Leon is also an avid fisherman and an elk, deer, upland game and waterfowl hunter. Since 1991, Leon has been an assistant scoutmaster with Boy Scout Troop 18 in Bend, and is a scoutmaster wilderness skills trainer for the Boy Scouts’ Fremont District. Leon earned a second degree black belt in Taekwondo, and competed in his last tournament (sparring and form) at age 49. He is an enthusiastic Bluegrass mandolin picker and fiddler and two-time finalist in the International Dutch Oven Society’s World Championships.

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